The number of students within the university honors program has risen, despite the loss of one of its largest benefactors last spring.
Heather Galloway, program director for the university college department, said severing ties with the Mitte scholarship foundation in April did not devastate the honors program.
“First of all, there were at least four, maybe five, programs that the Mitte foundation was funding on campus, and I think only two were focused on students,” Galloway said. “That scholarship program has ended, but no students lost their scholarship as a result.”
The Mitte Honors Program handled two scholarships known respectively as the Mitte, which awarded $5,000, and the Laureate, which gave $25,000, each year. Galloway said the programs were kept separate, and as a result, did not affect any students in the honors program.
“While we appreciated the funding from the Mitte foundation, we did not change the program for them,” Galloway said. “The needs of the program are based on the needs of the faculty and the students.”
The Mitte foundation donated more than $9 million to Texas State, but the university did not lose a penny. Galloway said the endowments from the foundation for the honors program were never large sums of money.
“Even though it looks like the biggest chunk of money was actually ours, when it’s an endowment you don’t (earn all of it) — last year we only got about 2 percent,” Galloway said. “So it looks like we lost this enormous sum of money and we did, we lost that endowment, but the amount of funding annually that the university has to provide for replacement is actually quite small.”
Ava Pope, physics senior, said the loss of the Mitte scholarship benefited the students.
“When the university decided to give back all of that moneythey decided to give up the same amount, and they actually reduced the requirements for us to get the scholarship,” Pope said. “So instead of taking 15 hours a semester, now we have to take 30 hours a year, and they don’t require us to do community service, even though most of us still do.”
The honors program housed 1,013 students with more than half being continuing students from 2008. Galloway said this represents the growth of students despite the Mitte foundations removal.
“Over the past few years, we have been growing rapidly,” Galloway said. “We have also been increasing the number of students taking classes. It has grown by 50 percent in the last three years.”
Diann McCabe, associate director of the honors program, said the courses and activities offered through the department attract students.
“We really see ourselves as a kind of lab where people know that if they have some wild idea, like throwing a birthday party for Darwin, they can do that,” McCabe said.
Galloway said the department plans to add more classes to the curriculum and possibly turn the honors program into an honors college.
“We are adding departmental honors courses and then expanding our regular course offerings,” Galloway said. “This program is open to all majors, so we would like the classes to be welcoming to all disciplines.”
McCabe said the addition of new classes may attract a larger diversity of students.
“We would really like to have more students,” McCabe said. “I don’t know how big we will grow, but I would love to have all kinds of students from different majors and different backgrounds.”
Pope said the opportunities for students allow interaction with people in the program and expansion of her experience.
“I think they provide a good opportunity for students to take classes in a close environment where you get to know the professors really well,” Pope said. “That is the most valuable aspect of them— having small discussion-based classes where you are not just a number in a big auditorium.”